Attention and organizations

Authored by: Inga Jonaityte , Massimo Warglien

Routledge Handbook of Bounded Rationality

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138999381
eBook ISBN: 9781315658353
Adobe ISBN:


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Limited attention is a defining feature of bounded rationality. This chapter surveys the key research topics on attention in organizational context. Since the early years of the Carnegie School, organizations have been interpreted as responses to human attentional limits. This has led to a focus on how organizations provide through hierarchical decision making and task design “attention-directors” as a response to human cognitive bounds. The chapter looks at the development of these original ideas, and to more recent approaches such as the attention-based view of the firm. It points to some specific mechanisms that can shape and guide attention allocation within organizations: control systems, communication, corporate governance, and incentives, and also presents how attention allocation can have consequences for organizations’ learning and adaptation to their environment. Finally, the recent burst of an “inattention” literature in economics is briefly discussed and the chapter concludes with a set of suggestions for possible future research in this field.

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